As part of our You Decide 2004 coverage, FOX News conducted its own exclusive Election Day telephone polls in eight key states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The telephone polls, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search), surveyed a random sample of approximately 1,100 voters and likely voters in each state. Polling was conducted on Election Eve and throughout the day and early evening on Election Day.
The exclusive results to these polls provide an understanding of the dynamics of the election in each state, and throughout the country.
The election in Colorado involved both the presidential race as well as a tightly contested senate contest. Results indicate that voters used different criteria in selecting candidates in each race, leading to a divided vote among many voters.
In the presidential race, the most important issues were moral values (25 percent), Iraq (22 percent), terrorism (17 percent), and economy/jobs (16 percent). As in other states, most of those who said their vote was based on moral values or terrorism voted for George W. Bush (search), while voters who said their vote was based on Iraq or economy/jobs went overwhelmingly for John Kerry (search).
In the senate race, the economy was the most important issue by a wide margin; 31 percent mentioned jobs/economy, followed by 13 percent that cited taxes and 13 percent that said moral issues such as abortion or gay marriage. Most of those citing the economy as the most important issue to their vote — about two-thirds (67 percent) — voted for the Democratic candidate Ken Salazar (search). Voters who said taxes were the most important issue voted for Republican Pete Coors (search) by a 70 percent to 29 percent margin. In addition, those who mentioned moral issues such as abortion or gay marriage voted for Coors by a 69 percent to 29 percent margin.
The issue of immigration received a good deal of attention in Colorado, particularly in the senate race. In total, 13 percent of Colorado voters said they feel that legal immigration should be increased, 40 percent said decreased, and 47 percent said it should remain at the same level it is now. As would be expected, those who feel immigration should be increased were more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate in each race, while those who feel that immigration should be decreased tended to vote for the Republican candidates.
As was true in 2000, Florida was one of the most closely watched battleground states. Going into the election, there were concerns expressed by both parties that votes would not be counted accurately. The FOX News poll shows that less than half of all Florida voters (47 percent) were confident there would be an accurate count of votes. Twenty-eight percent were concerned that many legitimate votes would not be counted or that legitimate voters would be discouraged from casting a vote, while 14 percent were concerned with fraudulent or illegal votes.
Hispanic voters, a key-voting bloc in the state, backed Bush over Kerry by a 51 percent to 48 percent margin.
The most important issues in the presidential race in Florida were moral issues (21 percent), Iraq (17 percent), and terrorism (17 percent). There was little focus among voters on domestic issues in the presidential race, particularly health care and education, which are often important voting issues in Florida. Voters over age 65 split their vote, with 50 percent backing Bush and 48 percent Kerry.
In the closely contested senate race between Republican Mel Martinez (search) and Democrat Betty Castor (search), the most important issues were economy/jobs (22 percent), followed by health care (13 percent), terrorism (12 percent), and abortion (11 percent). Voters who focused on the economy or health care were more likely to vote for Castor, while those who focused on terrorism or abortion supported Martinez.
Perhaps because Iowa has a particularly high percentage of residents serving overseas in the military, many cited Iraq as a key issue to their vote. Twenty-one percent of Iowa voters mentioned Iraq as the most important issue, 20 percent cited moral issues, and 19 percent the economy/jobs. Nearly half (47 percent) of Iowa voters believe it is more important to win the war in Iraq, but a 53 percent majority believes it is more important to end the war.
Military households in Iowa were slightly more likely to vote for Kerry than Bush (50 percent to 47 percent).
Iowa voters were divided on moral issues. Forty-nine percent believe that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while 51 percent believe it should be illegal. Similarly, there is disagreement regarding whether there should be civil unions or no legal recognition for gay couples. However, moral issues were much more likely to be a voting issue for Republicans than Democrats: those who named moral values as the most important voted for Bush (91 percent).
Religion also played a factor in the Iowa race. Catholics went for Kerry by 60 percent to 38 percent, while Protestants went for Bush by 56 percent to 42 percent.
NEW MEXICO HIGHLIGHTS
As in 2000, New Mexico was among the closest races in the country. Kerry won the Hispanic vote handily (63 percent to 34 percent). Among whites, Bush won 56 percent to 42 percent. Given that Hispanics comprise 30 percent of the voting population, the advantage among Hispanics for the Democrats almost precisely balances the advantage among whites for the Republicans.
Bush held on to 90 percent of his 2000 vote, while the Democrats held on to 92 percent of those who voted for Gore in 2000. Voters that did not vote in 2000 went for Kerry by 60 percent to 35 percent.
Voters who made up their minds before the political conventions voted for Bush by 53 percent to 45 percent. Those who decided their vote around the time of the conventions, the presidential debates, or within the last week all tended to vote for Kerry.
Iraq was the number one issue to New Mexico voters (21 percent), followed closely by moral values (19 percent). As elsewhere, those voters who focused on Iraq were likely to vote for Kerry, while voters who focused on moral issues were likely to vote for the president.
NORTH CAROLINA HIGHLIGHTS
In North Carolina, Bush did well among social conservatives. As in other states surveyed, “moral values” was often cited as the most important issue in deciding their presidential vote preference. North Carolina voters tend to be more conservative on social issues than voters in other parts of the country; 56 percent of voters believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. Over two-thirds (68 percent) of abortion opponents voted for Bush.
Most North Carolina voters made up their minds several months ago; 71 percent of voters made their decision before the conventions, which is higher than in any of the others states in which polls were conducted. Among “early deciders,” Bush won 58 percent of the vote, while Kerry won 41 percent.
In the senate race, the Republicans gained the seat formerly held by John Edwards (search). If Edwards had run for reelection against Republican Richard Burr (search), it appears Edwards would have held on to his seat by a 53 percent — 47 percent margin. Seven percent of those voters that would have voted for Edwards voted for Burr.
Among the groups of voters most closely followed in the Ohio election were gun owners. While Kerry made a special attempt to connect with gun owners in Ohio, Bush won this group 61 percent to 38 percent.
Kerry did better among union households. Twenty-three percent of Ohio voters live in a union household and Kerry solidly won this group (57 percent to 41 percent).
The economy in Ohio was one of the key issues throughout the campaign, and was a focus for Kerry during visits there. Over a quarter (27 percent) of Ohio voters rated their personal financial situation as either “not so good” or “poor,” which is higher than in other states surveyed. Among these voters, Kerry won by a 73 percent to 27 percent margin. However, among voters who rate their personal financial situation as “excellent” or “good” (73 percent of all voters), Bush won 57 percent to 42 percent.
One of the main stories in the election in Ohio focused on possible voting irregularities. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) said they believed many votes would not be counted, while 15 percent said they were concerned with fraudulent votes in Ohio. A 54-percent majority of Ohio voters said they were confident there would be an accurate vote count.
In Pennsylvania no single issue dominated the election. Twenty percent of voters cited Iraq, 20 percent moral values, and 20 percent cited the economy/jobs as the most important issue in deciding their vote for president.
Many Pennsylvania voters had reservations about the war in Iraq. Just over four in 10 percent said the war had improved the long-term security of the United States, while 57 percent believe it did not. Forty-one percent of voters said the recent reports about explosives at Al Qaqaa were important to their vote. Of those saying the reports were important, Kerry won by a two-to-one margin (66 percent to 32 percent).
Among military households, 49 percent voted for Bush and 49 percent Kerry.
Kerry did well among first-time voters, which comprised 10 percent of all voters in Pennsylvania: 64 percent chose Kerry — 33 percent Bush. Bush held on to 91 percent of his vote from 2000, while Kerry won 93 percent of the vote won by former Vice President Al Gore (search).
Just as 2000, Wisconsin was an evenly matched race between the president and the senator. The most important issue to Wisconsin voters was moral values (24 percent), followed by 18 percent that named economy/jobs, 18 percent Iraq, and 15 percent terrorism. Over 80 percent of voters who picked moral values or terrorism voted for the president, while most voters that named Iraq or the economy supported Kerry.
The president lost nine percent of the voters he won in 2000; of those that defected from Bush, Iraq was the issue that mattered most to their vote. Just over half of Wisconsin voters (52 percent) said the war has not improved the long-term security of the United States. However, military households, which comprise 39 percent of the electorate in Wisconsin, voted for Bush by 55 percent to 44 percent.
One problem Kerry faced in Wisconsin was a perception of being too liberal. Half said Kerry’s positions are too liberal, 46 percent of voters said about right and four percent said his positions are too conservative. Voters were more likely to see President Bush’s positions as about right (56 percent), 32 percent said too conservative and 11 percent too liberal.